‘Game of Thrones’ Season Premiere Review: “Valar Dohaeris”
‘Game of Thrones’ season 3 conjures its premiere and first episode of the season “Valar Dohaeris,” as Jon Snow meets with the mysterious Wildlings, while Daenerys negotiates to buy an army, Tyrion demands recognition for his role in the battle, and Davos Seaworth attempts to sway King Stannis back to reason.
Last year’s ‘Game of Thrones’ finale “Valar Morghulis” saw Daenerys entering the House of the Undying to reclaim her dragons, while Kings’ Landing dealt with the aftermath of Blackwater, and the Night's Watch saw the return of the White Walkers, so what will the new season bring?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3 premiere, “Valar Dohaeris!”
After the sounds of an epic battle, Samwell Tarly runs through the snow, finding only a beheaded brother of the Night’s Watch. A Wight soon appears and lunges after him, but Ghost appears and attacks the creature, while Commander Mormont lights it aflame. Learning that Samwell didn’t send ravens to the Wall, Mormont addresses the men and warns them they’ll need to return quickly.
Elsewhere, the Wildlings take Jon Snow through their camp, Jon spying his first giant along the way, before being taken to Mance Rayder’s tent. Initially mistaking Tormund Giantsbane for Mance, Jon makes the men laugh by kneeling before the king. Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) finally reveals himself and asks Jon the true reason he wants to join the Wildlings, to which Jon admits his disgust with the Night’s watch for protecting Craster’s truce with the White Walkers.
Back in King’s Landing, Podrick interrupts Bronn at the whorehouse with a summon from Tyrion, while Tyrion himself has a visit from Cersei. Initially distrusting, Tyrion finally allows his sister to enter his chambers, before she asks his intent in meeting with Tywin later that day. Cersei denies any knowledge of the man who turned on Tyrion in the battle, but worries Tyrion will “slander” her to Tywin. Outside, Bronn and Podrick finally arrive, nearly coming to blows with the guards that refuse him entry. When Cersei finally exits, Tyrion explains that he needs Bronn’s constant protection, but Bronn demands double the pay to reflect his new status as a knight.
Elsewhere, a sunburned and ragged Davos Seaworth awakes on a rock, and flags down a nearby ship for rescue. Initially uncertain of its allegiance, Davos soon finds the ship belongs to Salladhor Saan, who initially refuses to take him back to Stannis. Salladhor informs him the king has become a recluse, while Melisandre burns unfaithful men alive, but reluctantly agrees to take his friend to Dragonstone.
Robb Stark leads his men to the ruins of Harrenhal, which has since been emptied and littered with bodies of the dead. Robb and Talisa manage to revive one of the men, before ordering the soldiers to find a chamber that will serve as a cell for his mother.
Back in Kings’ Landing, Tywin largely ignores Tyrion, angry that Tyrion engaged in his usual debauched behavior after being given real power as Hand to the King. Tyrion demands some recognition for his efforts in defending the city, but Tywin asserts that Lannisters need no gratitude for their actions, before finally agreeing to find a suitable position for Tyrion. Even so, he denies his son the rights to inherit Casterly Rock, and assures him he’ll kill any whore Tyrion spends his company with.
Outside, Sansa Stark and Shae make a game of guessing ships’ destinations, before Littlefinger interrupts with a message for Sansa. Speaking in private, he informs her that once he has his new assignment he can smuggle Sansa out of the city, but Ros advises Shae to be careful about letting Sansa trust Littlefinger. Meanwhile, across the sea, Daenerys Targaryen watches her dragons feed on the open water, but expresses her reservation to Ser Jorah about buying a slave army from Astapor.
Davos Seaworth finally arrives back at Dragonstone to see Stannis, but the King allows Melisandre to do most of the talking for him. Davos urges him to get rid of his red priestess, but she retorts back that they would have won the battle of Blackwater Bay if Davos hadn’t asked Stannis to leave her behind. Davos attempts to stab her when she mentions the death of his son, for which Stannis orders Davos be locked in a cell.
Being carried through Fleabottom, Margaery Tyrell orders the convoy of she and Joffrey to stop, and Joffrey watches with curiosity as Margaery speaks to the city’s orphans. Margaery informs the children they’ll all be cared for by her, before meeting her brother and Queen Cersei for dinner. Cersei shows a bit of disdain for Margaery and the affection her son seems to show for her, while Margaery expresses her gratitude for her family being allowed to help the city.
Daenerys finally arrives in Astapor, as a slaver has his translator extoll the virtues of his army, the Unsullied. The slaver expresses his disdain for Daenerys while his servant girl translates his words much more politely, assuring her the Unsullied are completely obedient. To demonstrate, the slaver casually cuts one of the men’s nipples off, who shows no pain and casually steps back into place. Daenerys is horrified to learn that an Unsullied must kill a newborn baby as part of his training, but considers the offer to buy her army.
Walking through the city debating the matter with Jorah, Daenerys follows a strange young girl who rolls a ball to her. Daenerys goes to open the ball on the girl’s instructions, when out of nowhere a man springs forth to knock it away from her. Daenerys watches as a deadly Manticore slides out of the ball and goes to attack her, but the mysterious man kills the creature and chases off the little girl, revealed to be an agent of the warlocks. The man reveals himself as Ser Barristan Selmy, and explains that he has sought her out to join her Queensguard , having falsely served Robert Baratheon years earlier.
Finally, 'Game of Thrones' has returned! We were overjoyed to finally see new episodes, though predictably we see absolutely nothing of the battle between the Night's Watch and the White Walkers. 'Game of Thrones' has become an increasingly divided series, as so many stories and characters tend to leave individual episodes without a singular focus. We don't see everyone in the first week back, with no presence from Arya or Bran Stark, and relatively little time spent on Robb and Catelyn. The writing is every bit as sharp and exciting as ever, with Daenerys having a much more exciting story this year, though it's difficult to get a bead on how things will move forward with such an overloaded season. "Valar Dohaeris" itself isn't a particularly exciting episode, nor does very much of import happen, but it provides an easy outlet to settle in for the more exciting stories going forward.
Did you get your fill of sword-swinging 'Game of Thrones' action? What did you think about premiere episode "Valar Dohaeris?" Check out all our other ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3 coverage, and join us next week for an all-new episode recap of ‘Game of Thrones’ season 3′s latest episode “Dark Wings, Dark Words” on HBO!